Settlements That Failed: “Urban Amish” in New Orleans?

A small, accidental settlement of Amish apparently once existed in New Orleans.

David Luthy explains that in the 1800s, many migrant Amish came to America from Europe by way of the Mississippi River port.

Sometimes it happened that an Amish family lacked the funds to continue upstream and onward to established settlements, often in Illinois.  Previous to 1850, stranded families formed a small and short-lived community in the city.

Information on the community is scant, but apparently bishops from midwestern settlements cared enough to make the long trip and minister to the congregation there.  Bishop Peter Naffziger even walked there on two occasions to care for the settlement’s spiritual needs–apparently from his home in Ohio.
1849 New Orleans map from Louisiana State Museum

New Orleans, at the time, was nothing like it is today, of course.  However, it was a city in the true sense of the word, with an 1840’s population around 100,000.  Most of the inhabitants were French-speaking, so Luthy speculates that the Amish, from Alsace and Lorraine in France, likely felt more at home here than they would have in other ports.

It seems that the few Amish that lived here, if they did not move onward after raising the necessary funds, eventually may have adopted urban ways, lost traditions and assimilated.

(Source:  David Luthy’s The Amish in America: Settlements That Failed, 1840-1960.)

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